Two home teams: Stupples plays for Europe, lives in U.S.

Friday, September 9, 2005
Dalhousie Golf Club touring pro Karen Stupples followed through on her swing on the 14th tee Thursday during the final practice round for the Solheim Cup in Carmel, Ind. (TOBY CARRIG ~ tcarrig@semissourian.com)

CARMEL, Ind. -- Karen Stupples admits she has more than one home.

A native of England, a resident of Orlando, Fla., and the touring pro for Cape Girardeau's Dalhousie Golf Club, Stupples can feel comfortable in a lot of different places on both continents.

But she said she will be no less of a competitor this weekend when she plays against the United States in the Solheim Cup, the prestigious match-play team event that pits 12 European-born players against 12 Americans.

"I'm very lucky to have two homes," Stupples said Thursday after her practice round and an impromptu autograph session at Crooked Stick Golf Club north of Indianapolis. "But at the end of the day, competition is competition, and I want to win."

The Europeans begin that quest today, although Stupples was not among the eight players in the lineup for four alternate shot matches.

While she has played three times as many events this year on the U.S.-based LPGATour than she has on the Ladies European Tour, Stupples still feels very close to her native country. She had her best tournament finish on either tour this year in the Ladies English Open, where she finished fifth in July. And, of course, the pinnacle of her career came last year at Sunningdale Golf Club in Berkshire, England, when she won the Women's British Open.

Asked about the rivalry with the United States, she flashed fingernails painted in the European team colors and said, "What do you think?

"You're representing your country and Europe," she added. "I take a lot of pride in that no matter where I live."

Stupples was so intent on making the European team that she spent July and August playing LET events to earn points for the Solheim Cup. She ended up 11th on the Order of Merit -- the top seven earn automatic spots -- and was selected as one of the five players tabbed by the captain to round out the team.

Her spot on the team seemed automatic after the work she did in 2004, when she finished second at the ANZ Ladies Masters in Australia, tied for third in the English Open and won the Women's British Open in addition to claiming her first LPGA event and finishing sixth on that tour's money list.

But she has failed to crack the top five in any LPGA events this year and is 38th on the money list after missing the cut last weekend at the State Farm Classic in Springfield, Ill.

"This year has been a bit sluggish with defending [the British Open] and trying to make improvements to my game," Stupples said. "Just ask Tiger Woods about making changes to your game, and sometimes you don't play as well as you'd like.

"I think the changes are starting to take affect now ... better that it's this week more than any other."

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